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'Shaolin' Ribeiro Plans Appeal, Should Ask for Rematch Instead

Vitor 'Shaolin' Ribeiro has a reason to be upset about his split decision loss to Lyle Beerbohm at last weekend's Strikeforce event in St. Louis. As bad decisions in MMA go, this one was particularly baffling.

Ribeiro spent most of the fight tying Beerbohm up in one submission after another. A game Beerbohm escaped again and again, but never managed to mount much offense of his own. When two of the three judges gave him every round on their scorecards, it was difficult not to wonder how simply surviving warranted such a clear victory.

But in an interview with Brazilian website Tatame, Nova União's Andre Pederneiras said that the team plans to file an appeal with the Missouri Office of Athletics with the hope of getting the fight changed to a no contest.

"They can't do that, is absurd, it's not right. Even if I have to ask the help of a lawyer, I will change this outcome," said Pederneiras.

American Top Team's Alex Davis, who said he isn't Ribeiro's manager, but rather a friend of the young Brazilian who wants to help out, told MMA Fighting, "It was a stupid decision. Nothing against the other kid, he's tough and all that, but 'Shaolin' definitely won the fight. Tell me how Beerbohm won? Please. I just don't understand it."

As someone who was in the arena that night and scored the bout 30-28 for Ribeiro, I don't understand it either. What I have even more trouble comprehending, however, is exactly what Ribeiro and his team think they'll accomplish with this appeal.

Getting an athletic commission to admit error and reverse the outcome of a bout is hard enough when you've got an airtight complaint. If there was a foul or referee error involved (such as in the Mike Aina-Billy Evangelista fight, which was eventually changed from a DQ win for Aina to a no contest), then maybe – maybe – you'd have a chance.

But a judges' decision is essentially a matter of opinion. It's three separate people all looking at something and trying to come to a conclusion about what it is they're seeing. As far as methods for deciding the winner of a fight go, it's a lot like that old saw about democracy: it's the worst system, except for every other system.

If athletic commissions were to start overturning judges' decisions simply because one fighter felt like he got the short end of the stick, they'd be setting a very dangerous precedent. Pretty soon they'd be inundated with appeals, and the decisions announced on fight night would start to feel like preliminary rulings.

When a fight goes to a decision after fifteen full minutes of action, it's usually because the bout was pretty close. It's somewhat unusual to find a fighter who thinks the judges made the right call by raising the other guy's hand.

Ribeiro has a legitimate gripe, and anyone who saw the fight knows it, but it's not the worst robbery we've ever seen. It's less a travesty of justice than it is an honest, but still surprisingly bad error in judgment.

Instead of looking backwards with an appeal that is dead before it even begins, he should look to the future. Ask Strikeforce for the chance to make it right. Tell Scott Coker you want a rematch. And then finish the fight yourself so that the judges don't ever have the chance to get it so wrong.

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